Life through the cracks
COVID-19 has not stopped EMUR from reaching new heights – literally – for people living with MS. In fact, EMUR has found opportunities for growth in the midst of the crisis.
‘The Argentinian writer Ernesto Sábato once said “Human beings know how to make new paths out of obstacles, because life only needs the space of a crack to be reborn“. We at Esclerosis Múltiple Uruguay could not agree more with this perspective! 2020 has been a year of great challenges, but it has created opportunities to grow and connect. With the commitment of our volunteers, we have redoubled our efforts to support people affected by MS at this difficult time.’ Magdalena Gari, EMUR volunteer and founder.
We caught up with EMUR to hear more about their recent work.
Supporting the community online
Throughout the pandemic, EMUR has used technology to support people living with MS at home. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, EMUR endeavored to make the most of World MS Day 2020. The organisation curated a month of online activities for the #MSConnections campaign. Supporters could tune into music therapy. Social media was used as a tool to share useful tips on living with MS during the COVID-19 outbreak. The organisation collaborated with the Central Coordinator for Uruguayan psychologists to create a safety advice video for people with MS. EMUR even launched an online platform to make it easy for people affected by MS to access emotional advice and support. These initiatives extended the reach of EMUR’s services, taking their national work to another level.
The 24-Hour Challenge
To support their recent work EMUR organised a fundraising event, known locally as the 24-Hour Challenge. The event was launched in partnership with three national athletes – Juan Carlos Beroqui, Carla Dadomo and Ricardo Fernández – to raise awareness and funds for the MS community. The 24-Hour Challenge consists of 24 climbs and descents to the summit of Cerro San Antonio along the Piriapolis coastline in Uruguay. Participants must complete the 144km course in 24 hours, which equates to approximately one climb and descent per hour. The demanding course was designed to represent the daily challenges of living with MS. One participant Clara said:
‘We made several climbs accompanied by people affected by MS who were inspirational and resilient. When life hit them hard, they showed that they are more than that! With every descent, we had to re-gather the strength to keep going. Just like in real life, when we are surprised by the unexpected, when we are given a diagnosis that we don’t want to hear, when we think we can’t take it anymore or when everything is uphill…we gather ourselves, work as a team and start again!’
The timing of the event could not have been more fortunate as Magdalena explains:
‘[The event] was only one week before March 13 when the measures for the COVID-19 pandemic led to a complete lockdown. Had the race been scheduled as usual for April 2020, it would have meant the suspension of the race until 2021.’
Supporting young people with MS
The event’s success has helped sponsor new work with young people living with MS. EMUR has kick started a new webinar series to support young people with MS in Uruguay. So far, EMUR has held seminars on inclusion in the workplace, and accessing MS treatments. They are now preparing for the first national meeting for young people living with MS in Uruguay.
We asked EMUR if they had any final words for the global MS movement:
‘We would like to tell everybody that even though we have to keep distance…there are generous people out there waiting to help. Their support makes us feel accompanied and reminds us that we are not alone.’ Magdalena Gari
Stay tuned for more information about their work in the coming months!
Magdalena Gari is an EMUR volunteer, founder of EMUR, and bilingual contact with MSIF